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Trigger Happy Jack II

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126 Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Mon Mar 21, 2016 1:03 pm

Something about the man's candid confession unsettles me, and it takes all I can to keep the disdainful scowl from curling my lips as I, instead, take a long drink of my whiskey. It reminds me of Wesley, that sort of false honesty that came after being called on his shit. Even the way he interacts with Marnin, his touch soft and genuine, turns my stomach. And Marnin is lapping it up.

I don't doubt that Richard loves Marnin. I wholly believe, in his perverse way, he loves him more than anything else in the world, but a man like Richard has lethal love. He loves Marnin the way Wesley loves terror. The sort of love that drives a man to animalistic cruelty to achieve a high. How many of Wesley's loved ones have sat in Marnin's very position, taken aback and enthralled with their abusers sudden candor, the promise of self-awareness offering some fake glimmer of reprieve. No. There's no end in sight for Richard's reign of terror, and as I take a long drag off of my cigarette, I find myself realizing that no offer he could give me would justify putting my city in the same league as his. No. This is now just a waiting game. Waiting for the best time that I can leave this nightmarish mansion with dignity in tact, hopefully without the wrath of the Braddock name following me home to Soltera. 

"If only self-awareness were the cure." I respond evenly, finishing off my whiskey as I rise and drop my cigarette in the glass before setting it off to the side. 

"I believe we have a dinner to attend this evening," I add, a bit more enthusiasm in my voice as I smile, "If I may be excused, I wish to take my leave to get ready. Richard," I bow my head slightly, "Marnin. I'll see you at dinner."

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127 Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Mon Mar 21, 2016 8:08 pm

"Did you really mean all of that?" I ask once Ellie has gone, my attention lingering for a moment as I notice Richard staring disdainfully down the top of her satiny blue jumpsuit. I try not to flinch as Richard leans back in his chair boredly, his finger swirling the drink that's been placed in front of him absently.

"You didn't really fuck her," he says, almost pleased with my deception - or at least I think he's pleased. "I've seen the way you act when you've even considered the act. No, you didn't do anything with that woman besides endure the torture of her company. You have eyes for no one else."

"That's true..." I respond, Richard's eyes narrowing as he looks over at me.

"Either that was a joke about your lack of sight," he says, his voice growing sharp with warning. "Or a very unwise admission."

"How do you know I wasn't trying to be romantic?" I ask with a frown, his harshness slowly clipping away at the little bud of hope that had started to blossom after his heartfelt display.

"Because it was an outright lie if that was the case," he snaps. "I know you have eyes for that woman. Don't insult my intelligence and then call it romance."

"You said yourself, you know I haven't forgiven you and I probably never will-," the last word is barely out of my mouth before he's jerked me toward him, a handful of hair clenched in his fist as my eyes water instantly with pain. I expect him to hit me. My eyes squeeze shut in anticipation of the blow, my breath coming quickly as I clutch at his chair for balance, my own tipped precariously under me.

But he never does. Instead, I find his hands leaving my hair as they come up to cup my cheeks. I'm so thrown by the change of direction that I find myself collapsing to my knees beside him, my knuckles still white on his chair as I grab his wrist with my other hand. I'm shaking when he presses his forehead to mine - I think he's crying.

"Don't say that," he breathes. "You can't ever say that. You have to forgive me."

"Is that an order?" I breathe shakily, my lashes becoming wet as I try to blink away the angry tears forming in them as I tug at Richard's wrist. He's stronger than he looks.

"No," he says in earnest. I'm surprised when he stops resisting my attempt to get him to let me go, his hands leaving my face so I can move back to my own chair with shaking knees. "It's a plea. You have to forgive me, Marnin. Please."

"I-," anger wells in my throat, forming a lump that I'm forces to swallow past before I shake my head. "I don't know if I can."

"Try," he insists.

"Promise you won't hurt Ljuba," I say it again - still not satisfied with the promise he gave me over the phone.

"No," he says, shaking his head quickly. "I don't want this to be a negotiation. I won't hurt her - but not as an exchange for your forgiveness. I want that because it's real. Not bargained for like some cheap pair of shoes."

"Ljuba is not cheap," I say sternly. "Or shoes, whatever that's supposed to mean."

Richard's face tilts toward the sky as he draws in a long-suffering sigh. I find myself seething as I listen to him, my fist clenching with the urge to punch him in the slender length of exposed throat. How things have changed - such a spectacle used to elicit a much different response. But now all I can think of is Ljuba's throat and the way it swallows when she cries - which she's no doubt doing after I left her for him.

"I fucking hate you," I laugh out, the angry tears finally coming as I shake my head in bitter amusement. "What did I ever do to deserve you?"

"Now, Marnin," Richard says, his voice cracking with warning and some kind of perverse injury to his fabled emotions. "That hurts. Is that entirely necessary?"

"YES!" I scream at him. "Yes! It is so fucking necessary! I prayed I would find the courage to leave you and never see you again. And then you blinded me. A cruel punishment for my cowardice in not leaving, I thought. But then I did leave, and now - now I would claw my own ears off if only to never have to hear your saccharine voice again! I'd rip out my own nerve endings to never have to feel you touching me. And if that offends you, then please! Inflict those tortures on me. I will thank you. That is how much I fucking HATE you!"

Richard is clearly wounded, his jaw clenched tightly shut as he stares at me with some unfathomable emotion. His lack of response only makes me angrier, the tears flowing more freely as I slam my fist on the table.

"Say something!" I shout. My heart skips and I lean back in my seat expectantly as he rises to his feet to brush himself off. Surely he'll punish me now.

Instead, he leans in to kiss my cheek gently.

"I'll see you at dinner," he says lightly. And then he's gone, leaving me to sit in shocked silence by myself.

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128 Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Mon Mar 21, 2016 8:27 pm

**

The hours pass slowly before it's finally a decent time to head to the dining hall, Wilson leading the way ahead of me. He's clicking away on his phone, head down and the world ignored. For a moment, I find myself wondering who he's talking to before I recall the new sergeant he'd assigned before our trip. A fierce woman who could put even him to the ground, I've not a doubt in my mind he's exchanging thinly veiled innuendos with her. 

The dining hall is empty when we reach it, save for the servants scurrying around to gather the plates and cutlery, their eyes widening as we approach the door. They leave without a word, the table an incomplete thought in an otherwise immaculate room. I turn to look up at Wilson, his phone sliding into his pocket as he takes a step closer to my side.

"We were told Mister Braddock had arrangements for us this evening?" He asks one of the servants before they can scamper off, the young woman turning to look at us with an uneasy smile. 

"Uh-" She falters, looking between us before the door behind her opens and someone hisses for her to come. "Mister Braddock will be here to address you shortly, Mister Gatz. Help yourself to the bar in the meantime?"

Wilson practically growls at her as she disappears into what I can assume are the kitchens, and he strolls over to the bar to gather some glasses. 

"He makes a big fuckin' deal out of this dinner, then can't be bothered to plan it properly?" He grumbles, pouring us each a whiskey before he heads back to me. 

"Oh, I think he's planned this perfectly," I sigh, taking the drink before raising it to clink with my brother's.

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129 Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Mon Mar 21, 2016 8:35 pm

I'm stuffed into another scratchy suit as I make my way down to the dining hall with Richard a few short steps ahead of me. I'm so busy trying to get the wool collar off of my neck that I don't even begin to notice anything amiss until after we've entered the dining hall and strolled over to the bar. It's then, in that moment when I catch the smell of Ellie's perfume and stop my fidgeting in a show of politeness, that I realize that no one else is in the dining hall.

"Wait, where the hell did everyone go?" I ask, too shocked to remember where I am or who I'm with.

"Language," Richard scolds, his eyes widening a bit at my interruption. Sighing, he turns his attention back to Ellie and Wilson. "My apologies. I realize I should have told you that I had decided to cancel our dinner. I hope you didn't go to too much trouble getting ready?"

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130 Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Mon Mar 21, 2016 8:42 pm

"Now, why would we do that?" I ask, turning to look at Richard in annoyance as I rest my elbow on the bar more comfortably.

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131 Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Mon Mar 21, 2016 9:08 pm

"Still your disdain," Richard replies dryly, clearly getting to the end of his patience with the two of them. "I know you're eager to be gone from this place - and frankly, I'm eager to have you gone. So I decided to skip the Orlesian tradition and embrace your more direct approach - albeit less refined."

"So why am I wearing this then??" I hiss as I step toward Richard, his attention flickering back to me quickly as he rolls his shirt sleeves up - presumably to deal with the business at hand. I know better, however, and I flinch back at the threatening gesture and drop my gaze reluctantly.

"I've decided to accept your terms," Richard says as he turns his attention back to Wilson and Ellie. "Even that ridiculous claus you threw in just to taunt me. In exchange, I have only one request. You must take Marnin back with you when you leave."

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132 Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Mon Mar 21, 2016 9:16 pm

"What?" Wilson scoffs as he turns back from the bar, licking the liquor he'd spilled from his thumb as he looks between Richard and Marnin at a loss.

"Why would we want him?" I ask thickly, wary of the motives behind Richard's offer.

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133 Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Mon Mar 21, 2016 9:36 pm

"Do you mean you want us to do a job together?" I ask apprehensively. "Because whatever it is, I can do it myself..."

"No, I don't mean I want you to do a job together," Richard snaps, his air of feigned civility dissolving into harsh mockery. "I want you gone. This isn't fun anymore - and it's precisely where you wish to be anyway. You'll be happy there. And once our 'guests' learn of your murderous ways, I'm sure they'll be happy to relieve you of your ears and your nerve endings. Hopefully slowly."

"I don't know what you're talking about," I frown, trying to piece together where it is I supposedly wish to be.

"Of course, if you don't want him, I understand completely," Richard carries on, waving Wilson and Elli toward the door. "You can leave - no harm, no foul. And I'll simply bring Ljuba here. Surely something is bound to make him-"

I can't control myself - the mention of Ljuba incites my anger. And in my anger, I remember. I remember that name: Wesley. Wesley Fucking Gatz. And I don't even hesitate to consider the likelihood of the connection, I simply let my rage loose, my fist colliding into the back of Richard's head.

"GATZ?!" I scream at him as he stumbles. "You were trying to give me to WESLEY FUCKING GATZ'S FAMILY?! And what would you do with Ljuba when you brought her here? Huh? Invite HIM for your faggot fucking drinks?! Parade her around in some horrid outfit that gets your rocks off?! Until what? Until he figures out what he fucking did, until he does it again?!"

"Marnin," It's satisfying, the way his voice trembles as I set about slipping off my jacket and rolling up my sleeves to come at him in the same way Richard has done to me so many times before.

"Don't be a coward, Richard," I repeat the words he's used on me many times as he stumbles against the bar and tries to make himself a smaller target. I know his men are watching, are on their way, but I don't care. "Take responsibility for what you've earned. You're supposed to be a man."

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134 Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Mon Mar 21, 2016 9:44 pm

"Wils-" I start, his hand already dipping into my bag as he finds the small 'panic button' he insisted I keep with me. 

"They're on their way," He says roughly, his large hand covering my shoulder as he pulls me back away from Richard and Marnin. There's this growing pleasure I get that comes from each sickening time I hear the sound of Marnin's fist connecting with Richard, and I'm grateful for the black of my dress as blood no doubt sprays around us with each blow.

"Tell them to keep Richard's men off," I say loudly, the storm of foot steps coming down the halls as guards from both families descend on the room. "Let him have his licks."

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135 Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Mon Mar 21, 2016 9:57 pm

I don't know how long it goes on, but I'm breathless by the time I've slowed. My hands are braced against the bar as I kick at Richard's barely conscious form, the energy and anger sapping from my muscles with each sharp kick. There is still enough anger in me to be livid when I feel his magic worming its way into my subconscious, though.

"Enough!" he barks breathlessly. And damn it, I have no choice. I stop. But his order isn't enough to keep me from dropping down in front of him, my fist clenching in his hair to pick up his bruised and bloodied face.

"Know that if you retaliate for this," my voice is low and raw from yelling and crying, but no less menacing as I force Richard's jaw back so I can squeeze his throat meaningfully. "You will find me just as I found Milly. And then there will be no one left to love you."

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136 Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Mon Mar 21, 2016 10:27 pm

I've backed against the wall as Wilson prattles into his phone, securing a vehicle out of here for us as I watch on in horror.

"The cars out front," Wilson says, hanging his phone up as he grabs my arm as though to lead me towards the door.

"No," I say roughly, jerking away from him as I step towards the Braddocks hesitantly. "Marnin- you can't stay here."

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137 Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Mon Mar 21, 2016 10:32 pm

I'm breathless as I step back away from Richard, tears welling in my eyes as I lick my lips and glance back at Ellie. I shake my head, the feeling of betrayal tearing at my insides. She's right. I can't stay. Richard's men will kill me, kill Ljuba. But I can't go with her.

"You're one of them," I breathe, my head still shaking in shocked denial. "You're one of him. I can't go with you. I can't stay. What do I do?"

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138 Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Mon Mar 21, 2016 11:46 pm

"Come with us," I say again, my jaw set as I glance down towards Richard warily. "Once we're clear of the city, you can go wherever you want, but right now, you need to leave."

"Elle-" Wilson starts, but I continue.

"I don't know what twisted reason your husband had for bringing us here, and I don't care - I am offering you help, so take-"

"Elizabeth!" Wilson hisses, grabbing my arm as I look up at him angrily, "It won't be long before Braddock's men figure out what's going on and stop cooperating - We have to leave."

"We are." I jerk my arm from him as I step towards Marnin. "Come, it was part of the agreement, remember? You come with us now, no one's the wiser."

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139 Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Mon Mar 21, 2016 11:53 pm

I can't think. My mind races almost as quickly as my heart, my hands shaking and bloodied as I take the offered hand and nod weakly.

"This will start a war with Orlais," I say as she pulls me along behind her, the insistence of her pulling hurting my injured arm, though I say nothing of it outside of wincing and inhaling sharply everytime she follows Wilson around a corner. "People will say Soltera did this. Others will say you made me do it. And everyone else will claim you kidnapped me."

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140 Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Tue Mar 22, 2016 12:00 am

"Leaving you here won't prevent any wars," I say roughly, pausing only to kick off my shoes so I can keep up with Wilson better. By the time we reach the entrance to the garages, we have several of my brother's men surrounding us, weapons drawn as they lead us down to the vehicle. The panic is starting to spread within the house, but we've encountered none of Richard's men on our way to the car.

"Lady," One gruffs as he opens the rear door, eyeing Marnin warily as I usher him in ahead of me. Once I'm in the back seat, the guard slams the door behind me, Wilson and he sliding into the front where the guard takes the wheel and sets us off.

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141 Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Tue Mar 22, 2016 12:09 am

I'm panicking. It's obvious. The confinement of the back of Ellie - Elizabeth's - car does nothing to help matters, either. Even the soft leather of the seats seems out to make me overheat and die of suffocation as I squirm in the seat, struggling to catch my breath as I fight with my tie and the buttons squeezing against my throat.

"Shit," I whine anxiously. "Shit, shit, shit. What have I done?!"

The car moving sets off another wave of hyperventilating as I try to get my bearings, try to get a count on the people in the car who are potential threats. All of them. They're all a threat. They're fucking Gatz's.

"I'm going to be sick," I say quickly, motion sickness and anxiety clawing for dominance as I drop my head into my hands, my elbows digging into my knees as I try to steady myself.

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142 Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Tue Mar 22, 2016 12:13 am

Dumping the contents of my bag onto the floor, I hand it to him to vomit in before resting back against the opposite edge of the seat, watching him quietly. 

"You fought back," I say after a long moment, reaching up to hit the switch so the barrier between the front and back rises, giving us privacy. I can practically feel Wilson tensing as it rises, giving us only one glance before we're left to ourselves. "It's admirable. It was stupid, and reckless, but admirable."

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143 Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Tue Mar 22, 2016 12:20 am

"No," I laugh bitterly, tears staining my eyes as I hold the bag she had given me between my knees. "No, it wasn't admirable. Ljuba is going to die now because of me, if she isn't dead already."

The thought brings another wave of tears and labored breathing, my head pressed against the seat in front of me as I gulp down lungfuls of air.

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144 Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Tue Mar 22, 2016 12:24 am

"I would offer her my protections, but given your reaction to our family name, I feel like that wouldn't have the desired effect." I respond, the seeming normality of the city's day-to-day routines outside my window leaving me more at ease.

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145 Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Tue Mar 22, 2016 12:31 am

"Fuck you and your family," I spit angrily. "You want to offer to protect her life? Well, what's left of her life is shit because of your brother. If you want to offer anything, offer me his head on a fucking spit. Richard, everything else? I've already planned for."

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146 Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Tue Mar 22, 2016 12:34 am

"Look, I don't have any fucking clue what you're talking about, but I can tell you right here that Wilson and I, Soltera, we do not align ourselves with the likes of Wesley Gatz. He is a stain on our family's name and should he be unwise enough to show his face near my city again, his head will be on a pike for all to see." I hiss as I lean towards him, reaching out to grab his arm before thinking better of it.

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147 Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Tue Mar 22, 2016 12:42 am

I tense at her hand reaching toward me, my expression twisting into something feral for just a second before she withdraws. I'm glad she did. The adrenaline buzzing through my veins is still leaning heavily toward violence, and I already feel horrible for losing my control over Richard.

Still, I continue to lean against the door as far away from her as possible after she has withdrawn. I hate the way my chest continues to heave with barely contained panic, the difficulty and pain behind each breath making me question how much I may have exacerbated my injuries. It's a fleeting thought, though, my attention returning to Ljuba just as quickly as it had strayed.

"You know then?" I ask after a moment, my face pressing against the glass, the cold grounding me in the moment. "You know what he's capable of."

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148 Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Tue Mar 22, 2016 12:43 am

"First hand." I respond simply.

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149 Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Tue Mar 22, 2016 12:50 am

My chest heaves at that, airless words catching on my lips and never forming into the outrage behind them. Instead, I huff, turning my face toward the window as a storm of emotions surge through me. Finally, I find the anger to continue.

"So you know what he does to women," I accuse, trying in vain to keep the angry tears from welling in my eyes again. "And yet he lives. You're the noble family of Soltera! Your reputation is known in the darkest corners of the wastes! Why would you let him live - why would he let him live?!" I gesture toward the front of the car sharply. "I know the way he looks at you. That's the look of a man who would and has killed for you."

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150 Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Tue Mar 22, 2016 12:54 am

I tense slightly, crossing my legs as I look out the window briefly before turning back to him. 

"As far as anyone is concerned, Wesley is still very much a part of our family, but only as a courtesy to our father. Wesley is his first born, and Marcus Gatz is still the man leading Soltera. He found the thought of Wilson and I turning on his first born distasteful. Thought it would mar our name, to have his children killing each other." I grit out, my jaw set tightly as I look aimlessly around the car.

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